It doesn’t matter whether you’re just feeling thankful or you’re giving thanks, gratitude is one of the most powerful practices you will ever have. Being thankful can change your outlook on your day or even your life.
Don’t believe me? Try this: Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Think about something or someone for which you’re grateful. You might even think about several people or things. Just keep breathing and thinking: really seeing, hearing, feeling that person, that place, that thing. Don’t stop until your chest fills up and a smile is on your face. Feels good, doesn’t it? Makes you feel like you can do more, be more, doesn’t it? You probably feel better than you did a few moments ago. That’s FEELING thankful.
Now, that you’re feeling thankful, let’s try GIVING thanks. Look around you. Walk up to someone and tell him or her what you really appreciate about them. It can be a friend, a teacher, a loved one, or a co-worker. It depends upon where you are, right now. Here’s the thing, though. You must be thoughtful enough to be specific and courageous enough to be a little mushy!
I appreciate the way that you always have the courage to raise your hand and give answers in the class. Whether they’re right or wrong doesn’t seem to matter. I think that’s pretty cool!
I love visiting your classroom. It’s always so warm and inviting! That tells me a lot about who you are as a teacher.
No matter what’s going on in the office, you always appear to have it all together, AND you have time to show that you care for everybody around you! You’re amazing!
Wait a second! You can’t just say it and run away! Take a moment. Look the person in the eye. Smile! Wait for a reaction. It might be slight one. It might be a hug! It might be a “Why, thanks for noticing!” It might even be an uncomfortable glance away from you if the person has not grown comfortable with being appreciated. What’s important is that you’ve extended honest to goodness appreciation to another human being. Take a deep breath and return to what you were doing (perhaps reading this article?) How do you feel? Better? Stronger? Happier? What’s your face doing right now?
Extending thanks has its returns, doesn’t it?
Now, take a few minutes and journal. Jot down your thoughts about gratitude and your experience with practicing gratitude. Let your ideas flow. Be honest! Be specific, and most of all, be grateful!
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